Car accident reports are available as public records in Georgia. That does not mean these documents are easy to obtain or readily available to everyone. Understanding the state laws concerning car accident reports and knowing the steps it takes to request them is essential for anyone involved in a car accident.
Understanding the steps in obtaining motor vehicle accident reports will only help expedite the process. If you or someone you love sustained serious injuries in a car accident, an Atlanta car accident lawyer is here to protect your rights, help you recover, and fight for the compensation you need to get on with your life.
Why It is a Good Idea to Report a Car Crash
Any car crash resulting in injury, death, or substantial property damage (typically $500 or more) has to be reported under Georgia Law. But any accident, no matter the circumstances, can be reported. These reports allow the situation to be documented and can preserve what really happened and protect potential claims against any of the involved parties in the future.
When Should You Report a Crash?
In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, the local police should be notified. In cases where jurisdiction is in question about which police or sheriff’s department should handle the reporting, 911 should be called, and an operator can direct the call to the correct department.
It is important to offer honest information and descriptions when a police report is being filed. A fact-based police report filled with transparent and truthful accounts only strengthens an insurance claim or a potential lawsuit. The report should include the specifics of the crash, like location and time, but it should also include:
- A thorough account of what happened
- A list of damages and injuries
The Benefits of Reporting a Car Accident
Police reports may not be 100% factual. Despite these reports containing differing accounts from various perspectives of those involved in the accident and opinions from multiple sources, a police report is still a valuable commodity regarding insurance claims and evidence in a lawsuit. A compensation case is very hard to prove without a police report.
Police reports issued in the state of Georgia should provide a litany of beneficial information, including:
- A detailed description of the car accident, which includes the location, date, and time
- Witness statements and the statements from all involved parties
- Opinions from varying perspectives describing the reasons the accident occurred
- The official cause of the crash, as determined by law enforcement
- The determination of a liable party
- Any citations or violations of the law that were issued due to the car accident
- A list or physical copy of any relevant evidence like photos, illustrations, intoxicating materials, torn or soiled clothes, etc.
The Process of Obtaining an Accident Report
Citizens of Georgia are able to gain access to various kinds of public records and official documentation because of Georgia’s Law Enforcement and Open Records Act. Reports relating to motor vehicle accidents are considered open records.
But the right to access records and the ease and simplicity of obtaining these records are often two very different things. An official request must be submitted before someone can view a motor vehicle accident report, and a valid and legitimate reason must be supplied by the requester.
The official request that needs to be submitted is known as a “written statement of need” or an Open Records Request. Often, to make certain these documents are done correctly and to avoid them being rejected, attorneys can help to draft them or can guide a client through this overwhelming process and ensure the records are claimed properly.
Who Can Submit a Written Statement of Need
Only drivers in question are allowed to submit an official request or a written statement of need. However, there is also a multitude of individuals who may have a need or a want to access a motor vehicle accident report, including:
- Attorneys of any of the involved parties
- Someone who was injured in the accident
- The owners or previous owners of property that was damaged or was potentially damaged in the accident
- Witnesses of the accident
- News reporters or media outlets
- Various government agencies
- Someone conducting research
- Someone who has personal or business connections with any of the parties involved in the accident
To determine legitimacy, requests are evaluated individually. While any of the above-listed parties can request access to the accident report, it does not mean that access is always granted. If a request is deemed invalid, the requesting party is denied access to the report.
After a public record has been requested with a written statement of need, the process of either granting or denying access usually takes about three business days.
Contact an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer Today
Car crashes can be overwhelming, and the aftermath can be a chaotic rush of paperwork and conversations concerning the accident. It is a lot to handle for someone who is also recovering from injuries and reconciling traumatic events.
Accessing a car accident report in Georgia should not add to the complications or get in the way of recovery. Protecting your legal rights after a car accident should be the first goal of any attorney.
Your rights and recovery are the first priority for our team of Atlanta car accident lawyers. We can help you navigate the legal process and help you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today.
Please call an Atlanta car accident lawyer who has a history of working tirelessly to obtain the compensation clients need and deserve. Contact us today so we can get started immediately.